15 Best Things To Do In Davenport (Iowa)

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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The city of Davenport sits in Scott County in Iowa and has a population of over 300,000 inhabitants.  Dating back to its founding in 1836, Davenport is nestled next to the mighty Mississippi River and is known for being a green city that has over 50 local parks.

As such, biking and walking can be easily enjoyed here, and there are also a number of annual outdoor festivals hosted in Davenport.

Aside from its green spaces, Davenport also has a wide range of activities and venues for visitors here to enjoy which include museums, galleries, markets, theaters, and even its own island in the form of Credit Island, a former Native American trading post.

Here are the best things to do in Davenport:

1. Great River Brewery

Great River BrewerySource: roadtrippers
Great River Brewery

Great River Brewery is dedicated to the love of all things beer related and was set up by two college friends with the dream of turning this love into a business.

Their brewery in Davenport brewed its first beer in 2009 and has been going strong ever since, making 3,000 barrels of craft beer every year.

Visitors to the brewery can enjoy a tour of the premises to learn all about how the beer is made and to witness the brewing process firsthand, before heading for the tasting room to try some of these delicious brews.

2. Lindsay Park

Lindsay ParkSource: wikimedia
Lindsay Park

Lindsay Park sprawls over 31 acres and sits in the Village of East Davenport where it has been part of the National Register of Historic Places since 1998. Visitors to the park can take in spectacular views of the Mississippi River that runs along the south side of the park, and there are baseball fields as well as a comprehensive playground area for younger visitors to enjoy.

For art lovers there are architectural sculptures that run along a section known as Riverfront Parkway and, should you be in the area at the right time, the park is home to the Rivverssance Festival of Fine Art which is held annually.

3. Chocolate Manor

Chocolate ManorSource: downtowndavenport
Chocolate Manor

If you have a sweet tooth then you mustn’t miss the chance to visit the Chocolate Manor in Davenport, dedicated to all things chocolate related.

All the products sold here are handmade on the premises and include chocolates, candies, and cakes.

As if that wasn’t enough, you will also find a variety of ice cream flavors on offer.

All ingredients are sourced locally and this is definitely the place to come if you are looking for some sweet treats in Iowa.

4. The Putnam Museum and Science Center

The Putnam Museum and Science CenterSource: traveliowa
The Putnam Museum and Science Center

A museum that is dedicated to educating visitors about history and natural sciences, the Putnam Museum and Science Center is known for being one of the first museums in the area.

Amazingly, the museum has stood since 1867, so if you choose to visit you should know that you are standing in a place of great historical importance.

There are 160,000 pieces in the museum’s collections and there is also a theater which screens movies on the topics of history and natural sciences.

Some of the permanent exhibits in the museum include an aquarium filled with fish as well as depictions of a range of natural habitats like caves and forests.

There is also a Hall of Mammals which has photographs, interactive displays, and more.

5. Village of East Davenport

Village of East DavenportSource: qctimes
Village of East Davenport

Known to locals as The Village, this area of Davenport runs along the Mississippi River to the southeast of the city and is a historic district that was once its own independent community.

Nowadays the Village of East Davenport is part of Davenport itself but is known for retaining its own distinct style and is a main shopping and entertainment area.

Many of the buildings here date from the Civil War era and the area is stocked with specialty local independent businesses, bars, and restaurants.

The Village is also listed on the Davenport Register of Historic Places and is definitely the place to come if you want to see an altogether more quirky side of this city.

6. Davenport Skybridge

Davenport SkybridgeSource: flickr
Davenport Skybridge

The Davenport Skybridge is a famous bridge in the city of Davenport that crosses over River Drive.

Built in 2005, the bridge is 50 feet tall and 575 feet long and offers visitors unspoiled views over the city, so this is the place to come if you want to get your bearings in Davenport.

Overlooking the Mississippi River end of the Skybridge you will find an observation deck and the inside of the structure is equally impressive as it is fitted with kaleidoscope lighting that includes over 8,000 lights.

These lights shine throughout the evening in a range of different patterns and colors and reflect seasonal holidays like Christmas.

For unparalleled views of the Mississippi River, this is the place to come.

7. Figge Art Museum

Figge Art MuseumSource: flickr
Figge Art Museum

The Figge Art Museum is one of the major museums in the area and is considered an authority on all things art related in the region.

Opened in 1928, the museum now has over 4,000 pieces of art work that date back to the 16th century up until the present.

There are large collections of Colonial Mexican, Midwestern, and Haitian art on display at the Figge Art Museum, and there are also items of memorabilia from powerhouse artists such as Grant Wood.

There are also a huge range of American pieces on show including those by artists such as Andy Warhol and Winslow Homer, as well as European pieces and East Asia works.

8. Freight House Farmers Market

Freight House Farmers MarketSource: flickr
Freight House Farmers Market

To sample the best of the local Davenport produce head to the Freight House Farmers Market where you will find fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, and baked goods.

There are also a range of other products such as homemade jams and dips and you can also check out items like plants and even local artwork.

If you get tired from strolling around and taking in the stalls then you can also stop for a massage with one of the licensed therapists at the market, which is conveniently centrally located and is now open all year round.

9.  German American Heritage Center

German American Heritage Center in DavenportSource: prairierootsresearch
German American Heritage Center

If you want to learn all about the history of the German-American community in Davenport then come to the German American Heritage Center which is part community center and part museum.

Bought in 1862 as a guesthouse for German immigrants, the building is now on the National Register of Historic Places and visitors here will find a range of interesting exhibits that include interactive displays.

There are also multimedia sections that aim to educate visitors on the history of the German community in Iowa as well as permanent exhibit areas.

10. Lock and Dam Number 15

Lock and Dam Number 15Source: wikipedia
Lock and Dam Number 15

Lock and Dam Number 15 is exactly that; a lock and a dam that are part of the Upper Mississippi River between rock Island and Davenport.

It also happens to be the longest roller dam in the world and its style and design are unique along the Mississippi River.

The lock and dam are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and this a great place to go to see a unique working waterway in action, as well as to walk on the surrounding nature trails.

Bird watching around the dam is a popular activity and this is an ideal day out if you want to take in the local plant and wildlife of Davenport.

11. Adler Theater

Adler TheaterSource: adlertheatre
Adler Theater

The Adler Theatre is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was originally built in 1909 and restored in 1986. Although freshened up, the theatre has still kept a wide range of its period features including the original glass work and chandeliers and seating.

Nowadays visitors can come here to see a range of vibrant shows that include musical performances, Broadway shows, standup comedy night, and theatrical productions.

12. Credit Island

Credit IslandSource: flickr
Credit Island

Credit Island is known for being an island on the Mississippi River to the south west of Davenport.

Originally the island was a former Native American trading ground from which it took its name, and it is now on the Register of Historic Properties in the Davenport area.

Credit Island spans 420 acres and is now dedicated to a community park that features its own golf course as well as rugby, soccer, and softball facilities.

Other popular attractions on Credit Island include fishing or picnicking and there are bicycle trails that run all over the area if you want to take in the local scenery by bike.

Eagle watching is also possible on Credit Island so bird watchers should bring some binoculars.

13. B.J and Mabel Palmer Mansion

B.J and Mabel Palmer MansionSource: palmer.edu
B.J and Mabel Palmer Mansion

The Palmer Mansion, or the Palmer Family Residence as it is also known, is the former home of B.J and Mabel Palmer who lived in the property from 1912 until 1961. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, the house now showcases the Palmer’s period possessions and is full of antique memorabilia as well as unique design elements.

The mansion is open for tours and run by enthusiastic volunteers who will take you through the home and explain its historical and cultural significance in the area.

Many of the pieces on show are exactly as the Palmers left them and these include period games such as a chess set, a pipe organ, and items picked up by the family on their travels around the world.

14. Duck Creek Parkway

Duck Creek ParkwaySource: qctrails
Duck Creek Parkway

Duck Creek Parkway spans an impressive 13.5 miles and runs through several parks in Davenport before culminating at Duck Creek.

Dating back from the 1930s, the parkway has a bike path that was built in the 1970s so that visitors can cycle the length the trail if they prefer not to walk.

The parkway also passes by other areas of note such as the Emeis Park and Golf Course if visitors fancy stopping by for a game.

Certainly this is the place to come if you are feeling active and want to spend the day taking in the spectacular nature and views on offer in Davenport.

15. Vander Veer Botanical Park

Vander Veer Botanical ParkSource: wikimedia
Vander Veer Botanical Park

Spread over an impressive 33 acres, the Vander Veer Botanical Park is a stunning botanical garden that is set in the Vander Veer Park Historic District of Davenport.

Known for being one of the first of its kind in the area, the park is now listed on the Davenport Register of Historic Properties and dates back to 1885. For visitors who want to explore the local flora and fauna of Davenport in a historic setting, this is definitely the place to come and areas of interest in the park include a music pavilion, a stunning conservatory, and picturesque fountains that predate the Second World War.

Certainly, if you want to get a glimpse of a park that also has significant historical and cultural appeal then this is a must-visit in the Davenport area.

15 Best Things To Do In Davenport (Iowa):

  • Great River Brewery
  • Lindsay Park
  • Chocolate Manor
  • The Putnam Museum and Science Center
  • Village of East Davenport
  • Davenport Skybridge
  • Figge Art Museum
  • Freight House Farmers Market
  • 9.  German American Heritage Center
  • Lock and Dam Number 15
  • Adler Theater
  • Credit Island
  • B.J and Mabel Palmer Mansion
  • Duck Creek Parkway
  • Vander Veer Botanical Park